“No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.
The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.”
-- The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The words above are very similar to the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, and that was by design. Working with Gen. Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson helped inspire the French document which has been guiding the country since 1789. That’s why the attack by radical Muslims on the satirical Charlie Hebdo publication has unbalanced the country. In the eyes of radical Islam there are few, if any, laughing matters. Two brothers, Cherif and Said Kouachi, are being sought in the attack and as of this writing and are still at large.
The weekly wasn’t for everyone’s soup. Its spices were most times bitter and its lampoon was directed at all aspects of French society -- including the country’s six million Muslims. The publication has been called “vulgar” “obscene” “crude” and many other not-so-flattering descriptions. It riled the feathers of more than just Muslims. According to The New York Times, the Roman Catholic Church has sued Charlie Hebdo 14 times.
All those issues aside, there is no justification that can be found in a free and open society for what occurred Wednesday in Paris when two gunmen entered the building that houses Charlie Hebdo and started shooting, killing 12, including two police officers. The journalist huddled in a news meeting didn’t stand a chance. One officer was killed in cold blood as he lie wounded on the sidewalk. And, ironically, one of the officers was Muslim. Paris and all of France is rattled, much like Boston after the 2013 marathon when another duo, linked by blood, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, planted bombs at the end of the race. It’s an interesting coincidence that the jury is being chosen to hear the case against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev this week.
While rattled, the French are not cowering in fear. They are rallying in protest and those rallies are being duplicated all over the world. Thousands of people carrying placards saying “JE SUIS CHARLIE” (I Am Charlie) are making sure those who would commit such terror don’t trample over freedom. In that we say, “JE SUIS CHARLIE.”